On Gary Hamel’s "The Future of Management" part 5 – Final thoughts

Hamel talks frequently in the book of enrolling the entire company in innovation. Among all the obstacles to achieving this–the lack of democracy, the weight of inertia–the biggest one in my view is the information gap. Comparing the volume and depth of information I had access to when I was a senior executive to the paucity I had in any other position–the difference was staggering. (Note: you can find excerpts of “The Future of Management” here.)

It’s no wonder that people can’t or won’t contribute meaningful ideas for the future when they don’t know what the strategy of the company is, or what the core competencies are, or what happy customers like and angry customers hate about the company.

And companies simply won’t share enough information for employees to be a valuable part of the innovation process. (If the guy in the printing department is limited to knowledge and context of printing, he’s not going to be able to contribute as much as he could.) Perhaps it’s concern for confidential information leakage, or for PR fallout, or that management simply doesn’t trust in the employees’ ability to add value to innovation. At any rate, there isn’t nearly enough information sharing with the rank and file.

So where does this leave us, at the end of “The Future of Management“? For one, with a feeling that the top-down, hierarchical, command-and-control model of management is in decline. But also that the next model has yet to be even devised, never mind perfected.

It will certainly be technology-driven. It will be more collaborative, and less proprietary (like P&G’s open innovation process). It will be more engaging and rewarding for most employees. There’ll be even less job security, and few places to hide if you want to skate for a while (and get paid for doing so).

But will companies look like Google, which for all its innovation still relies on hordes of internal staff; or like movie studios, which form and reform teams of independent contractors for each project; or like open-source communities, which solicit volunteers and manage via a peer-review process and offer of public recognition?

Will people be paid a salary, a price per innovation, or in equity?

What will managers do? Collect and distribute data, perhaps? Administer the market-making systems? Or vanish entirely?

Over the next twenty or twenty-five years, we shall see. It will be an interesting journey.

Other posts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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